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Daily Globe All-Area Girls Basketball Team, 2014



Ana Boever, Worthington

The best athletes are the ones who are constantly seeking to improve each day, each practice and each game. Worthington’s Ana Boever certainly fits that bill following her third season in Worthington’s varsity girls basketball program.

The 5-9 junior forward excelled in nearly every facet of her game this winter, providing expertise in many ways for her team, a group laden with experience and some sort of talent at nearly every position, no matter who was on the court at any given time.

Boever, a repeat performer on the All-Area first team, racked up 15 points per game, and at times, she was a real scoring threat even from five feet beyond the three-point arc.

On the defensive end, Boever crashed the boards, by the numbers, better than any of her teammates, getting 6.6 rebounds per game. She snatched a team-best 130 steals and blocked 53 of her opponents’ shots.

“She has a lot of tools,” Worthington head coach Eric Lindner said of Boever’s multi-faceted talents on the court. “She has done a lot of the things we’ve asked her to do. I think her biggest improvement was defensively. She did a great job of creating turnovers for us.”

As the calendar will soon turn to summer and eventually the 2014-15 school year, Lindner is looking for a slight change in roles from Boever. Gone will be a strong and talented senior class the Trojans possessed this season. It will then be time for Boever to lead in more ways than ever before. She verbally committed this week to play for Minnesota State University-Mankato in two seasons.

Melissa Gehl, Fulda

It pays to be tough, and Melissa Gehl proved herself to be tough throughout this season, helping lead the Fulda Raiders girls basketball team to a 16-12 overall record and a third-place finish in the Red Rock Conference behind Southwest Minnesota Christian and Southwestern United.

“She meant a lot to our team this year and is one of the toughest players, if not the toughest players, that I’ve ever coached,” Gehl’s head coach, Gregg Slaathaug said. “Physically and mentally, she was an extremely hard worker in the offseason and plays so hard all the time.”

Some of the biggest steps the future Minnesota West Community and Technical College player has taken in the last few years, Slaathaug suggests, are in the area of attacking the basket more consistently.

While Gehl missed a portion of this season due to a knee injury, she still closed the year averaging 22.5 points per game and sank 46 three-pointers, continually growing in her confidence farther and farther away from the rack.

While on defense, Gehl had 75 steals to her credit and cleaned the glass for 12.2 rebounds per outing.

“Everything’s she’s gotten is from her work ethic and from working out,” Slaathaug said. “She put in a lot of time in the gym before and after school.”

A tremendous leader for the Raiders, Gehl showed poise and guidance for her team both on and off the court.

“She was the face of our team and the leader of our team in practice, in games and in the locker room,” Slaathaug concluded. “She became a great vocal leader but one of the reasons she was able to do that was because she was such a leader by example.”

Brooke Henning, Worthington

While junior Ana Boever often provided an outside offensive threat for the Worthington Trojans girls basketball squad this winter, senior Brooke Henning made herself reliable in the paint on a regular basis.

One of the strongest post players the Trojans possessed in a while, Henning grew into this role as she entered the season, Worthington head coach Eric Lindner said.

“She did a better job of being more versatile, and she used to be a kid where she’d hit a lot of the mid-range jumpers,” he said. “Brooke really did a good job this year of having some post moves. She was able to turn away from the defense and finish.

“As a freshman and sophomore she was a really tentative kid and didn’t like all of the contact, but as a junior and senior, she has developed more of a tough-nosed attitude,” Lindner continued. “She had her nose broken a couple of times and has gotten mentally and physically tougher. There was a lot of physicality (from opponents) on the inside and she did a nice job of dealing with that.”

Scoring 14 points per game on average and crashing the boards for 6.4 rebounds a game, Henning proved herself to be one of her team’s most valuable seniors on an excellent team.

“We were really questioning when Brooke would come into her own so that we would have both an inside presence and an outside presence,” Lindner said. “That is one thing that really helped us this year. If she wasn’t able to (shoot well) on the inside, then everybody would lock down on our shooters and it would make life a lot harder than it was this year, as far as getting open shots.”

Courtney Place, SWU

The best players simply make things happen, and Southwestern United junior Courtney Place provided such a piece of work for her Wildcats girls basketball team this winter.

Playing often in multiple positions on the basketball floor from point guard to post, the University of North Dakota volleyball recruit thrived in nearly all of them, concluded her father and head coach, Keith Place.

“One of the best things about her is that she makes her teammates better,” coach Place said of Courtney. “She gives them opportunities they can capitalize on. She’s a unique specimen.”

One of the areas Place’s abilities were benefited from the most was in breaking presses the Wildcats faced.

“We’d just go to her and the press was gone,” coach Place said. “She could handle the press extremely well and has always been a good passer, but this year I think she improved defensively, improved at patrolling the middle and at blocking shots.”

The clear leader of her team in all aspects, Place’s efforts began on the defensive side of the ball. She had 2.96 steals per game, but almost more impressively, blocked 3.52 shots per game. She scored 18.7 points per contest and spread the ball around with 2.9 assists per game.

At home, the coach and player don’t frequently discuss basketball, coach Place said.

“People on the outside may be surprised, but we don’t talk a lot of basketball. She just has the sense to be able to do things at the right time,” Keith Place said. “She can create things and make good decisions. She’s an excellent decision-maker and is very versatile.”

Tianna Top, Southwest Christian

Top and the Eagles finished one step shy of a trip to the state tournament and came out of it all with a 20-6 record and a Red Rock Conference title.

“Tianna’s a solid traditional post player. Her 6-2 frame is an obvious presence in the lane for us,” Southwest Christian head coach Denise Nerem said. “We’re just starting to tap the potential. She’s come a long way this year and I’m expecting her to come a long way in the coming year.”

Top averaged 19.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game in Red Rock Conference competition in her junior year.

An up-tempo team that likes to get out and and run, the Eagles utilized not only Top’s shooting and rebounding abilities, but her passing abilities as well.

“She understands how to find her perimeter players really well and understands how to read the defense to see how many defenders are on her,” Nerem said. “An average basketball fan may not notice that Tianna never has just one defender on her. She’s always double — if not triple teamed the whole game.

“Tianna is a very unselfish player and she finds the open player when she acknowledges that she’s double or triple teamed. She does a great job with that,” Nerem added. “Tianna is a great girl and is a great leader for our team. She’s extremely positive and hardworking.

“We’ve been working hard at getting her ready for college. She certainly has the right size to play in college, but we just want to put all of those pieces together for a college coach to really grab hold of her and hold on,” Nerem said. “That’s what we’re looking for now, is to work toward getting her ready to play at the next level.”

(To see All-Area second team and third team, and honorable mentions, see the March 29, 2014 print edition of the Daily Globe)